Even without the Keep It in the Ground protesters providing backup, the Bureau of Land Management scrapped another oil and gas lease sale scheduled for Thursday in Colorado — which wasn’t unusual.
Under President Obama’s tightfisted federal lands policy, the agency has now canceled 34 out of 64 sales — 53 percent — in eight states in the past two years, a record that drew a lawsuit Thursday as concerns mount over Democrat Hillary Clinton’s similar leftward swing on energy issues.
The Democratic Party platform, drawn up in July by a panel stacked with Clinton appointees, vows to “phase down extraction of fossil fuels on our public lands,” a policy that critics say is already well underway under Mr. Obama.
Anti-lease activists “could stay at home, and they’re still getting their demands met, because the BLM is just not holding the sales like they’re supposed to,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance.
Fed up with the cancellations and delays, the alliance filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the agency of violating the Mineral Leasing Act, which requires the federal agency to hold at least four lease sales per year in eligible states where there is interest in fossil fuel exploration.
On numerous occasions, the sales have drawn demonstrations by Keep It in the Ground, a coalition of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, 350.org and Greenpeace, which has attempted to put an end to oil and gas drilling on federal lands.